A Call for Change: Where are the Peeing Women on Our Streets?

Image: Quora/ Andrew McKenzie

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Ever since I was a kid, people I saw peeing on the streets or across the bush have always been men. I always wonder where their equivalent women are. Don’t they get caught up with urgent nature calls? How do they handle that powerful urge?

One day, I was on my evening walk close to the junction separating Kunduchi and Tegeta Road in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The sun was still up, many cars were passing, and I, with a few other people, were walking along that paved pedestrian walk. I was walking for exercise, but a group of three ladies, or maybe two women and a girl and a man, came slowly from the other side. I was, presumably, walking home from a day of struggle. I saw a man squatting quietly beneath a vast billboard facing the road to my left side.

He was hidden by bush branches, preventing one from seeing him from either side until you were right before him. Perpendicular to the road. Next to me was a terrace and then the main road, with cars constantly in motion to Africa. There was no traffic jam, so few could notice his presence as a pedestrian would. The way I was. Walking steps afford one time to see his surroundings.

When you sense a slight movement, you can spot what it is. So, I turned and saw him with his head looking at the leaves in front of him like he was studying them, but without touching them. A man peeing doesn’t squat with his trousers at his thighs. What is he doing there? He is not a madman. He’s not dirty. But he is unusually calm and absent-minded, like a kid playing with his toys and imaginary friends.

Then he lifted his head, and our eyes met. Without a tingle of unease or urgency, his passive eyes disturbed me. It was as if there wasn’t anything unusual. I wanted to shout at him what are you doing there? I felt like the one intruding on one’s private affairs. But this is a public space; come on! I was shocked by his quiet indifference more than anything. His response.

I stiffened my neck and kept the pace. It was thoughtful of him not to face the other way and leave his naked ass to strangers. He wasn’t a madman. He still had an idea of shame. Otherwise, why not do whatever he was doing on the pavement? He’d rather face them strangers than scare them the other way around.

Was it food poisoning that forced him into that humiliating position? Or is this just one of his scheduled random acts of kindness to the bush? No wonder it flourished more under that billboard.

I could see the women approaching that spot with no clue. There’s no way they can miss him. A moving car can, but not a walking being. He was too busy to finish his business soon. They’ll reach him before he does.

There, I didn’t dare a second look. Now, I stopped. Then I saw one lady slightly turn his head in the other direction and increase her pace, leaving the man behind. After a few steps, they look at each other, turn to look back again and hold their mouths.

If he was a “she”, would we all react like we did? Would I be as disgusted as I was or be more sympathetic to her? Maybe even aroused. I am not sure what those ladies thought. It brought back that same question to me. Is it modesty that prevents them from peeing on the streets? Can humbleness stop a pressing need for one’s bladder? Can that modesty be taught also to men? If it can, then we should change the syllabus thoroughly.

In the same way, more men participate in sports by playing football in all available open spaces. We are now encouraging parents also to allow their girls to play soccer. Because we greatly miss their valuable presence on the pitch. We also need a few representatives for our streets to feel alive. They shouldn’t only let peeing in public be a man’s sport, but women too. They should now and then do it to exert their presence. Like dogs, like men, do.

That way, the contrast to a man’s acts will be brought to him sharply. To be significantly appreciated as a contribution from equal partners in this game, with all the thrills it brings. Maybe that way, we’ll find a way to convert men to women’s modesty and orderly conduct.

Don’t leave this all to men unchallenged. We need thee, here, now.

Find more of our lifestyle analyses here.

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